By Nicholas Buck

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend a short seminar on the topic of resilience. This was brilliantly facilitated by my colleague, Alia Bojilova, who was taken captive and subsequently negotiated her release from the Syrian Free Army. Needless to say, Alia has a level of real-world resilience that would leave many of us standing – myself included!

In attendance were senior leaders in the public and private sector. The discussion was candid, and it was interesting to hear everyone’s insights as to the perennial challenges that test leaders’ resilience. As a lay listener, here are some of my takeaways:

·        Resilient leadership vs. hyper-vigilant responding. Because our society often lauds busyness in itself, and because activity and effectiveness are easy to confuse, it can be tempting to conflate firefighting with personal resilience. Actual resilience is cultivated and demonstrated when stressful contexts are proactively managed and, where possible, pre-empted.

·        Framing stress is critical to building resilience. Resilient people are particularly good at putting stress in context. That is, they’re subjectively clear about the positive reason(s) for completing a stressful task. This framing, in turn, minimises the total amount of felt stress in a given context. Win-win!

·        Resilience is not (necessarily) heroism. The ability to work successfully and sustainably in difficult environments is, in part, a function of self-care. Heroic effort is externally impressive but typically short-lived. Consistently resilient people are ruthless in prioritising maintenance: exercise, family, time off technology, etc.

This is a small sample of what was covered: Alia’s knowledge of the neuroscience and organisational psychology that underpin resilience is exceptional. 

Do feel free make contact with Alia or myself if you would like to learn more. 

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